5 Common Mistakes New Guitarists Make and How to Avoid Them
Updated: Jun 29
In this article we’re going to explore some of the common mistakes that guitar players make when they first pick up the instrument. I’ll be speaking from my own experience as well as that of my students.
Giving Up Too Soon
I know the feeling. You watch a guitar player that you really love and think to yourself ‘wow, I’d love to be able to play like that!’ You get yourself a guitar and for the first week or so you love it!
However, then you hit a roadblock.
You find yourself stuck in a rut, unable to overcome this seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Maybe you wonder to yourself how guitar players can do all of these incredible things. So a lack of motivation kicks in and the guitar sits on it’s stand for a few months before being put in the attic or sold on to someone else.
The truth is, those guitar players you admire have spent thousands of hours in time and in some cases, tens of thousands of pounds in training.
It’s better to take a step back and acknowledge that you are at the start of a very exciting journey and that your beginning isn’t going to match someone else’s end point.
If you can view progress in terms of weeks, months and years instead of mere days, you’ll be in a much better position to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
Starting Off Too Complicated
Those players you admire can certainly do some crazy things with 6 steel strings attached to a piece of wood! And it’s tempting to dive right into all the juicy stuff!
Now, I don’t want to crush that motivation. I actually think that level of courage should be celebrated to a degree.
There are certain foundational elements of playing that must be laid in order for it to work long term.
Things like; good posture, correct arm and finger position and basic theory knowledge that will enable you to learn future pieces faster.
Don’t get too caught up in doing something so complicated that it leaves you feeling frustrated.
Playing Too Fast
This is another one the watch out for. As backwards as it might sound, fast playing on the guitar comes from playing slowly and accurately for a period of time until it feels second nature and then speeding it up a little.
Trying to play fast right away can hinder your progress in the long run. Your metronome is your best friend here. You can use it to anchor yourself to a specific tempo and stay on that tempo for a number of days or weeks until it feels totally natural.
The metronome will also develop within you a good internal pulse and keep you from gradually speeding up a piece as you move through it as guitar players tend to do.
Not Practising Enough (& Noodling Too Much)
I know, I know. It can be difficult to find the time within the context of our busy modern lives. After a long day at work, just getting the guitar out of the case seems like a difficult task!
But in order to succeed long term, you have to put in the practice time. The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time in the beginning. In fact, I’d recommend against practising for too long initially as it might cause you to feel a overwhelmed with all that new information coming in.
Playing Without Intent
What kind of guitar player do you want to be exactly? Can you narrow it down? Is there something specific you want to be able to play? Are you goals realistic for where you are?
Yes, the guitar can be incredibly fun even just to play around making silly noises and this playful approach is certainly something that I would encourage!
But I would advise having a specific practise routine.
Try doing 15 minutes at a time, broken down into 5 minute segments of specific tasks that you want to work on. Then when you’ve completed that, you can noodle away to your hearts content (if you’re unsure of what noodling is, it just means playing things you know with no real aim or intent).
In this article we have explored 5 Common Mistakes New Guitarists Make and How to Avoid Them. We’ve addressed issues like giving up too soon, playing too fast and practising with intent. You should now try and implement some of these ideas into your own practice routine!
About The Author
Aaron Carrington is the owner of Carrington Guitar Academy in Bath, UK. Since graduating from The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London. Aaron has played in high profile locations such as Buckingham Palace, The Savoy and The London Eye.
He’s been a regular part of the UK wedding and corporate gig scene and has travelled internationally to the Middle East to play in top quality residency bands 6 nights per week. The finesse gained from this level of playing experience is passed on to his guitar students.
Now permanently in Bath, Aaron strives to deliver the highest standards of guitar teaching at Carrington Guitar Academy by offering a personalized lesson plan tailored to each student’s goals. You may also catch Aaron busking regularly on the streets of Bath. If you're interested in guitar lessons get in touch to book a FREE trial lesson!